Welcome back to Heady Entertainment, MERRY JANE's weekly guide to just-released movies, books, and music — all fresh, dank, and THC-friendly. In specific, we choose our picks based on how they can enhance your combined consumption of cannabis and entertainment.
As summer winds down, movie theaters can finally roll out lit flicks beyond all those mega-franchise blockbusters. Lower key, in this case, definitely translates to fun stuff to see while high. Don’t Let Go is a time-trip fright fest; The Fanatic casts John Travolta as a homicidally freaked-out film fan; and the ace thriller Killerman stars Liam Helmsworth as a memory-wiped crook on the run from dirty cops.
Streaming options start with Dave Chappelle in a new standup special, Sticks and Stones; then veer into mind-blowing, bong-passing visual fantasy by way of Carnival Row on Amazon Prime and The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance on Netflix.
The weekend’s vintage cult curiosities are a wild pair: the literally spaced-out sex comedy Flesh Gordon and the hilariously ultra-cheap cowboy-vampire non-epic, Billy the Kid vs. Dracula.
New music offers an ear-opening, brain-bending array of smoke-inviting sonic opportunities with new releases from Lana Del Ray, Tool, and Pharmakon.
So let’s get straight — but not “straight” — to this week’s fresh-rolled recommendations.
Director: Malik Bader
Cast: Liam Hemsworth, Emory Cohen, Diane Guerrero
Erupting up seemingly from nowhere, Killerman explodes on screen as the surprise action-mystery ass-kicker of the year. Liam Hemsworth stars as a Moe Diamond, a New York City money launderer who wakes up with millions of dollars in cash and drugs, an army of violently crooked cops out to off him, and absolutely no idea how any of this happened. Smoke hard, ease back, and let Killerman run wild all over you this weekend. Despite the amnesia narrative, this one will be hard to forget!
Don’t Let Go (2019)
Director: Jacob Aaron Estes
Cast: David Oyelowo, Storm Reid, Mykelti Williamson
Don’t Let Go plays out like two separate, hyper-intense thrillers linked by a cosmic shift in time and space. After detective Jack Radcliff (David Oyelowo) gets a phone call from his recently murdered niece, Ashley (Storm Reid), he works with her across different planes of reality to both solve and, he hopes, prevent the crime.
Watched without being stoned, Don’t Let Go is a riveting nail-biter. Of course, we recommend watching it stoned, though, and munching on snacks more delicious than nails as your consciousness keeps up with the action.
The Fanatic (2019)
Director: Fred Durst
Cast: John Travolta, Ana Golja, Devon Sawa
For the past few years, John Travolta’s been starring in a lot of, let’s say, sub-Hollywood movies you’ve probably smoked to after hitting the Red Box for a rental or clicking play somewhere online.
Those flicks have their charms, but The Fanatic brings Travolta back to the big-screen and reinvents him as a terrifying, Hawaiian-shirt-wearing stalker out to make a permanent impact on his favorite action star (played by Devon Sawa). Honor the man’s comeback, and this hair-raising movie, by toking up properly before catching The Fanatic in a proper movie theater (edibles sprinkled on your popcorn will work, too).
Dave Chapelle: Sticks and Stones (2019)
Every new Dave Chappelle special is a stoner comedy milestone. His latest Netflix hour, Sticks and Stones, is particularly extra. At this point, the comic clearly doesn't give a fuck what people think. To wit, the new material includes why he doesn’t believe Michael Jackson’s accusers, a defense of Louis CK, and a general rebuttal of all "cancel culture."
Carnival Row: Season One
Cast: Orlando Bloom, Cara Delevigne, Tamzin Merchant
Watch: Amazon Prime
Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne star in Carnival Row, an eight-episode fantasy series that packs weed-fueled food for thought by reimagining America’s present immigration crisis back in 19th-century Victorian England.
Instead coming from other countries, though, the refugees in Carnival Row are fairies, fauns, and other mythical creatures.
Beyond the intriguing storyline, the show’s optical effects are first-rate, and it’s a kick to be high when beings with wings and horns start having a lot of sex on-camera.
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance: Season One
Voice Cast: Taron Egerton, Anya Taylor-Joy, Nathalie Emmanuel
The 1982 Jim Henson movie The Dark Crystal is an all-time stoner cinema mind-blower that combines pot-friendly medieval creatures and acid-splashed psychedelic adventure with an all-puppet cast.
The new Netflix series The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance takes place in the same universe as the film and — how dope is this? — the show stays true to only using puppets instead of copping out and going the CGI route.
Taron Egerton, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Nathalie Emmanuel lead an all-star voice cast that also includes Mark Hamill, Andy Samberg, Simon Pegg, Keegan-Michael Key, Helena Bonham Carter, Caitriona Balfe, Eddie Izzard, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Alicia Vikander.
Billy the Kid vs. Dracula (1966)
Director: William Beaudine
Cast: John Carradine, Chuck Courtney, Melinda Casey
Get It: Kino Lorber
In the annals of hilariously haphazard, so-bad-it’s-worth-ten-bongloads cinema, director William “One Shot” Beaudine may actually rank below the notorious Ed Wood on the talent scale.
That means, of course, that Beaudine’s bargain basement horror-western Billy the Kid vs. Dracula is a must-see for marijuana-enflamed B-movie fans — and here it is now via the miracle of Blu-ray.
Hollywood legend John Carradine stars as The Count, veteran stuntman Chuck Courtney plays the outlaw, and Melinda Casey, as the damsel in bloodsucking dristress, screams at a ton of rubber bats bouncing on visible strings.
Flesh Gordon (1974)
Director: Howard Ziehm
Cast: Jason Williams, Suzanne Fields, Candy Samples
Get It: Amazon
Sending up campy Hollywood space operas of the ‘30s by way of ‘70s drive-in sex-flick madness, Flesh Gordon has long reigned as a midnight movie favorite. It continues to astound first-time viewers with gloriously bad puns, relentlessly obvious attempts to get its stars naked on-camera, and a whole lot of actually pretty cool special effects.
After a Sex Ray from another world enslaves Earth, it’s up to musclebound hero Flesh Gordon (Jason Williams) to launch his dong-shaped spaceship toward the planet Porno so he can battle Emperor Wang (Lance Larsen).
Audiences have been inhaling an entire cosmos-worth of cannabis to Flesh Gordon since its debut. Now, here’s your chance to do the same with a new Blu-ray. Just watch out for the Penisaurus!
Get It: Bandcamp
As Pharmakon, New York noise guru Margaret Chardiet shatters the possibilities of music and launches each piece in a million different directions, with each one landing square in the most psychedelic pits of the listener’s brain. Devour is yet another sumptuous ear-feast of frantic racket-making shot through with druggy peaks and deep-dive valleys.
Get It: Tool Official
By combining classic stoner metal heaviness with hallucinogenic prog-rock and filtering it through virtuoso musicianship led by visionary frontman Maynard James Keening, Tool carved out a unique icon status in the annals of music for marijuana lovers.
Fear Inoculum is Tool’s first album in 13 years (a suitably witchy number). It consists of seven epic explorations that harken back to the group’s art-freak roots while blasting off to extremes that only veteran psychonauts of this caliber could find — then takes us all along with them.
Norman Fucking Rockwell
By Lana Del Ray
Get It: Apple Music
One of the most anticipated music releases of the year also turns out, unexpectedly, to be the most potent to pair with pot. As a globally obsessed-over singer-songwriter, Lana Del Ray confounded the expectations of even her deepest devotees earlier this year by issuing “Venice Bitch” as the first single from her new album, Norman Fucking Rockwell.
While “Venice Bitch” starts out as typically gorgeous Lana lament, it eventually veers into an almost ten-minute soundscape of electronic experimentation, poetic chunks of random lyrics, and, in all, a perfect introduction to Lana Del Ray’s most adventurous effort to date.
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